An accidental blog

"If God is sovereign, then his lordship must extend over all of life, and it cannot be restricted to the walls of the church or within the Christian orbit." Abraham Kuyper Common Grace 1.1.

Monday, 4 July 2005

Galileo, Darwin, and Hawking: Introduction

In his introduction (pp. 1-8) Dowe poses the question: Harmony or Conflict?

He identifies, largely following Barbour's well-known typology, four (or five?) ways that science and religion can relate: the two conflict models are naturalism ["nature is all there is"] -espoused by James Frazer in his Golden Bough, Hume, Thomas Huxley, Bertrand Russell, John Mackie and, Dowe claims, Stephen Hawking 'fits this camp' (p.3) - and religious science -exponents of this position would be Cardinal Bellarmino (a key figure in Galileo's trial) and the six-day creationist Henry Morris. The two harmony models are: independence (Wittgenstein) and interaction. Interactionists include Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton, William Paley and Einstein. He also identifies a sub-division of the interaction category: dependence; in this model science and religion are not only compatible they are dependent upon one another.

This typology has the strength of being simple and straightforward, though I do wonder whether a category that contains Bacon, Newton, Paley and Einstein is rather too large to be of use.

Dowe then asks a pertinent question: 'How are we to decide which (if any) of these [relationships] is correct? ... What method can we use to determine a resolution to such controversies?'

In an attempt to answer this question he proposes to examine some case studies: primarily - and here the title is a dead give-away! - Galileo, Darwin and Stephen Hawking. The problem that I have with case studes is that they can tell us how science and religion have related, but can they tell us how science and religion should relate? Dowe seems aware of this problem and so it will be interesting to see how he proceeds.

He closes with this:

I will defend the view that religious belief as given in western traditions ... is neither incompatible with nor a hinderance to science: there is no philosophical conflict.
(p. 8)

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